Poems by Eric Morales-Franceschini

Deep South Graffiti

calloused carpenter’s hands daughter’s kinky hair father’s bronze skin mother’s swollen belly
a child as yet born
to a worldly promise
bedrock laid stucco finish oak slumber and mossy breezes
siesta and King
had already died for our sins
the year 1986
circa picket tropical fences cuchifrito scents and land of liberty
so why not
sleep at peace American quintessence rights to bear arms and fly
confederacy flag white knuckles this far
trees bear history hurricane season never
justice weeps and Papi, are we safe? Yes, mi’ja
but bed drenched in piss shit smeared walls hope
ketchup improvised ink all-American red “Get Out Spics!”
and the writing on the wall says
it’s always the right time to do the right thing
and graffiti was our thing but Papi, are we safe?
and the writing on the wall said
not here the South Bronx never looked
so good ruminations the color ketchup red and nightmares
and Yes, mi’ja, we are citizens
but berretta M9 in Papi’s closet German Shepherd in the yard and a child as yet born
to writing on the wall that said
what it said



Every night the solace of moonlight
speaks to me like a world apart
and every night I dream the same dream

I dream I hear my abuela’s voice and
the endless thickets give way
to a puente the color of tamarinds

but always, the silhouette of an all too familiar memory
says, not this night
and I’m left alone under a melancholic sun

when all I want is to live a life not
governed by hope
not have to bleed these bones dry

learn to love dead
white things
or surrender the moonlight

because still I remember how she said luna llena
and still I remember
the serene jest

with which I could sit
on that luminous porch
and not yet know

all the questions
I would never
get to ask



Tropical Fetish

the fetish of the commodity is not that it yields surplus
but that it reassures us that everyday shall be as lovely as this day

so phantoms roam where trigueño bodies once laid
and everyone forgets to sow their seeds on the sabbath moon
—lest the jíbaro’s cry be eclipsed
and his machete interned for crimes he never committed

for the fetish of the commodity is not that it yields surplus
but that it tells us to look away
and forget
that it in her hands
hope was a green hibiscus and its red blossoms

which is why phantoms roam where black bodies once laid
and candles are lit at the centennial hour
lest we forget that the orishas live not by bread alone

so the santos cry tragedy, and the poets cry farce
but all that is heard is dried earth and the plantain’s slumber
for what names exist for a machete that shall never touch the good earth?
a hibiscus the color white?
a candle that knows not the sacred?
futures cannibalized by debt?





Eric Morales-Franceschini is a former day laborer and U.S. Army veteran born in Puerto Rico who holds a PhD in Rhetoric from UC, Berkeley and is Assistant Professor of English and Latin American Studies at the University of Georgia. He works in the fields of decolonial studies, Caribbean and Latinx literature, Cuban cinema, and radical thought in the Américas. His scholarly articles have appeared in or are forthcoming in Annals, Global South Studies, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, and Centro and his poetry in Somos en escritos.